5 things you absolutely have to do in Auckland, New Zealand

A general view of the city centre skyline of Auckland in New Zealand is seen in this photograph taken on October 20, 2011 from a ferry boat in Auckland Harbour. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A general view of the city centre skyline of Auckland in New Zealand is seen in this photograph taken on October 20, 2011 from a ferry boat in Auckland Harbour. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

When it comes to bucket list destinations for travelers from around the world, New Zealand is a name that keeps coming up. And for good reason. It’s a gorgeous country that has several amazing sights and incredible cities like Auckland.

It is the biggest city in the country, and is the kind of spot you can spend a lifetime exploring without experiencing everything there is to enjoy. There are so many options to choose from when you’re in Auckland that you should probably already start planning a second trip.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – APRIL 04: Auckland’s skyline is seen during lockdown with newly completed developments and a new skyscraper still under construction on April 04, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand was placed in complete lockdown and a state of national emergency was declared on Thursday 26 March to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the country. Under the COVID-19 Alert Level Four restrictions, New Zealanders are not allowed to leave their homes unless for exercise in their local area, or to get essential supplies. Offices, schools and childcare centres have been closed, along with bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. Essential services remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. Lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for at least four weeks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning New Zealanders of zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required. (Photo by WOWstockfootage/Getty Images) /

New Zealand is a country that’s history, art and culture has been defined by the ocean. There are a lot of ways to explore that, including SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. It’s a fantastic family spot and a great place to have a fun day.

The Aquarium has several amazing exhibits featuring a marvelous array of sea life, much of which can be found around the region. They have excellent penguin habitats as well as sharks, rays, turtles and some impressively colorful fish displays.

Spend the day in Mission Bay

Auckland has several interesting neighborhoods for visitors to enjoy. A key one for both tourists and locals is Mission Bay. It’s still in Auckland but still maintains some separation from the city center by a drive that’s just long enough that gives a feeling of seclusion.

This is a prime place to get a bite to eat at a shocking range of restaurants. There are a lot of great outdoor options, including relaxing on the beach or something more active like kayaking and paddle boarding. And the Trevor Davis Memorial Fountain is a great spot to spend time.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Māori culture is the core of what makes New Zealand such an amazing place. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is one of the top places in the entire country to experience the art that exemplifies the Māori.

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The gallery celebrates contemporary Māori art in a range of mediums. It is an overall artistic expression of everything that makes the Māori special. There’s a lot to see and enjoy here, including a variety of ongoing and featured exhibits.

Visit Tiritiri Matangi Island

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 09: The Auckland skyline is lit up by a fireworks show during the opening festivities of the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup on September 9, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by WOWstockfootage/Getty Images) /

A relatively quick ferry ride away from Auckland is Tiritiri Matangi Island. Getting out and about in nature when you’re in New Zealand is always a good idea, doubly so if you can check out somewhere as cool as Tiritiri Matangi.

Reclaimed as a wildlife sanctuary between 1984 and 1994, this island has become a birders paradise. It has become a home to incredibly rare species like the Takahe and the Tuatara. There are few places on Earth where you can experience so many rare birds in the wild.

Waitākere Ranges Regional Park

Waitākere Ranges Regional Park is an unbelievable place to say the least. Made up of more than 16,000 hectares of native rainforest and coastline, it features unforgettable natural and national treasures like the Karekare Falls.

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Located 40 minutes from the center of Auckland, your visit starts off at the Arataki Visitor Centre, which has some incredible views of its own. This is a marvelous wild space to enjoy. Places like Waitākere are why people head for New Zealand.